While the Wild shut Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney out on Sunday, the Dallas duo made a big impact on Saturday night. Their progress will be interesting to monitor throughout the next few weeks.
Surprisingly, Jagr saw his ice time rise from 16:04 in his four-point Saturday to exactly 18 minutes on a scoreless Sunday while Whitney went from 20-plus in Game 1 to about the same as Jagr yesterday.
In a vacuum, my gut would say Whitney is capable of a better season, but youngster Jamie Benn is the wildcard. If Jagr skates alongside Benn and Loui Eriksson, then he might even be more valuable than he was with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell last season.
Benn’s possible return also means you should be careful gauging Derek Roy. He can still be valuable - likely lining up with one or more of Jagr and Whitney isn’t exactly chopped liver - just note that his situation will change. He might see more dirty work in the future.
Switching aging gears, Teemu Selanne’s four-point night matched Jagr’s splendor. He scored twice on five shots and managed his big night despite just 15 minutes of ice time. With Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry likely to make big noise in contract years, defenses might not be able to focus as much on the Finnish Flash as they’d like. That could pay big dividends for what might be his swan song season.
Rookies got off to nice starts, with Jonathan Huberdeau’s three-point night leading the pack. My Calder Trophy pick Vladimir Tarasenko joins Huberdeau as an especially appealing piece because he’s in a fairly prominent position on a likely playoff contender. Mikael Granlund is another guy who fits in that category and has an above average chance of sticking with his big club.
I see nothing wrong with rolling the dice regarding Huberdeau and Tarasenko in particular, yet there is always the risk of a demotion.
While the waiver wires are at their ripest, I’ll pluck a few guys who are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of that moment. Don’t consider this list comprehensive.
Dmitry Kulikov (48 percent) - The underrated Panthers blueliner finally left scary RFA land. He didn’t play Saturday because of jet-lag, but consider him back in the mix.
Overall, I think he’s a worthy pick-up for defensive-needy teams. It would be nice if he fired more shots on goal (and thus was a better goal scorer), piled up more PIM and generally did more than collect assists. Still, he managed 24 helpers in just 58 games last season and he's seeing his game improve as the team around him gets better. I'd say he's an above-average add, even if he's low on the sexy scale.
Martin Havlat (21 percent) - At this point, you probably know the drill with Havlat: he’s a talented player who is wildly injury prone.
To me, it comes down to your situation: did you have some other guys who suddenly went on the shelf? Are you winger-weak in a moderately deep league? Perhaps you’re a gambler and/or glutton for punishment?
Honestly, Havlat’s potential is enticing enough that I wouldn’t blame you for giving him a shot. Just don’t waste waiver priority status and make injury backup plans.
Ales Hemsky (11 percent) - Carries almost identical risk/reward factors as Havlat, although I’d rank Hemsky a little lower because he’s had even less luck generally speaking. He’s also less likely to pull the trigger, historically speaking.
That being said, he’s an alluring talent on a team that could be fun to watch. You could do worse, but again like Havlat, you should also understand what you’re getting into.
Tomas Vokoun (38 percent) - Considering his $2 million price tag, there’s every reason to believe that he’ll mop up back-to-back games among other opportunities. He already stacked up a win and carries the enticing combination of a track record of strong individual numbers and the talented Penguins team in front of him. I think he’s a strong pickup in almost any situation.
Michal Neuvirth (12 percent) - Adam Oates didn’t throw Braden Holtby under the bus after the Tampa Bay Lightning pounded the Capitals, but it’s not like the rather unproven young netminder was cemented in the No. 1 spot in the first place. Maybe it’s not time to add Neuvirth just yet, but he should at least be on your radar.
To review: Vokoun is a really strong add, Kulikov is a good one, Havlat and Hemsky are justifiable and Neuvirth is worth watching.
INJURIES (Full list here)
Nikolai Khabibulin remains on the IR. Maybe that contract year thing is running out … Ville Leino is day-to-day with a lower-body issue … Daniel Carcillo can’t annoy opponents for about a month thanks to a banged up right knee … Todd Bertuzzi could miss a couple weeks with mono … Kris Versteeg missed Saturday’s game after “pulling something” … Zac Rinaldo cut up his knee on Sunday.